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Slow Beauty Takeover: The Beauty Trends of 2021

Published on: 23 Oct 2020

Mr Debashis Ghosh

NHS Consultant
GMC Number: 4657664

Medically reviewed by a licensed NHS consultant
Last updated: 15/08/2019

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After the unprecedented times of 2020, the world of beauty is ready to slow down in 2021. The attention will be on glowing skin, sweeps of neutral eyeshadow and untamed brows rather than sharp angles and carved faces.

Coming hand-in-hand with this stripped-back version of beauty is the focus on sustainability and lessening our impact on the world. Natural ingredients, ethical missions and organic products will be key beauty trends in 2021.

Research conducted by Nielson illustrated this point even further, with results showing that people were willing to drop extra cash to ensure their products were eco-friendly – 41% of consumers stated they would pay more for products that contain all-natural or organic ingredients.

Mintel’s research into global beauty trends for the next ten years shows that consumers are looking for a greener recovery after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As we enter into a new decade, beauty companies will begin to utilise repurposing schemes to move towards a zero-waste goal, exchanging empty containers for money-off vouchers or freebies.

What are the key beauty trends in 2021?


Your skin, but better

Make-up trends will reflect the uncertainty of 2020, with simple looks at the head of the industry. A focus on dewy skin and youthful bursts of colour will take prevalence in 2021.

A clear base of foundation and concealer will still be popular, but with many brands taking a vow to stop ‘skin retouching’ in ads, perfect skin won’t be the be-all end-all of beauty. Beauty brands like Olay, Dove, and Fenty have shown individuals with acne scarring and skin texture and have vowed to stop retouching in advertisements in a bid to eradicate the natural skin taboo. 

For most people, a lot of 2020 was spent indoors or wearing a mask, and so putting on a full face of make-up was not a priority. Dabs of blush and swooshes of glowing eyeshadow might have brought the rainbow back, but intricate overlined lips and perfectly angled eyebrows didn’t make much of an appearance.

Mascara will still be a key player and the return of gothic eyeliner or bright lipstick will add a pop of colour to the make-up trends of 2021.

The rise of multi-functional products

Make-up looks are getting simpler and so is skincare. Brands are looking towards creating products that treat different areas, offering moisturising, cleansing, and resurfacing properties in one product rather than three.

Gone are the days of a K-beauty ten-step routine, as many people are embracing a toned-down collection of just a few products. Results-driven and simplistic treatments will flood the shelves in the hopes of enticing those who want to strip back their routine whilst still achieving the clear skin they see on catwalks.

This can also be attributed to the emerging importance of technology in the beauty industry. Mintel’s Global Beauty of Personal Care Trends report states that the focus will shift from how to prevent ageing to preserving the quality of lives. Brands will start to take a holistic approach to beauty, taking note of mental and emotional health rather than just outward appearance.

Photo credit: Anna Ok / Shutterstock

Inclusivity is key

People want items that appeal to them as an individual. They want to be able to see themselves in marketing, TV shows, and movies rather than a model of idealistic beauty. People of colour, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community will be at the lead of a beauty rebellion that demands inclusivity.

Since 2017, Fenty Beauty has stormed the shelves with foundations, concealers, bronzers and blushes that come in number of colours to suit different skin tones. It was a launch that changed the industry and it was no longer acceptable for companies to release ten shades whilst alienating half of their audience.

Following on from this success, Flawless.org has collated a list of three brands that also offer inclusivity at the heart of their products:

Founded by two friends, KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson, Mented Cosmetics’ core ethos is inclusivity. It was started on the concept that everybody should be able to find themselves in the world of beauty, regardless of their skin tone.

A former beauty executive at Benefit Cosmetics, Sharon Chuter, wanted to curate a brand that champions empowerment, inclusivity and continuing this beauty transformation.

The brand launched with fifty-one foundation shades, which not only included different colours but different undertones. The shades were created and measured against the Fitzpatrick scale – a classification that shows the reaction of different skin tones to ultraviolet light – that resulted in five formulations to choose from.

First launched in 1994, IMAN cosmetics is targeted towards African American, Asian, Latina, and multi-cultural individuals in an effort to include many races, cultures and ethnicities within the beauty world.

As one of the first global companies to take this stance on inclusivity, IMAN cosmetics was truly at the forefront of the revolution.

Unisex products

The line between gendered products is being blurred, we will no longer find ‘for men’ or ‘for women’ on packaging, but instead see items that are geared towards the specific concerns of the consumer.

As a society, we are starting to identify ourselves far beyond that of gender, skin tone, or age, and the beauty world will reflect this in 2021. Products that are driven to the lifestyles and interests of their audience will become increasingly popular, with the conventional ideas of beauty being left behind.

The mainstream representation of gender fluidity means that make-up is no longer solely marketed to women, but to anyone who wants to use it. The broad spectrum of gender is starting to be more widely accepted and so the idea of brands releasing lines of make-up and skincare to be used by everyone will be widespread in 2021.